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News & Events > News > 2015 CONUS COLA Rates Announced

2015 CONUS COLA Rates Announced

The Defense Department released today its 2015 Contiguous United States (CONUS) Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) rates, which will take effect on January 1, 2015.  Approximately $25 million will be paid to over 19,000 Service members stationed in CONUS in 2015; $10 million less than last year.  While roughly 12,000 members will see a decrease in their CONUS COLA payments, some 7,000 members will see an increase or no change at all and 4,000 members will no longer receive a CONUS COLA payment. 

CONUS COLA is a taxable supplemental allowance designed to help offset higher prices in high-cost locations in CONUS that exceed the costs in an average CONUS location. Rates can increase or decrease depending on the prices in a duty location as compared to prices in an average CONUS location.

By law, a contractor provides cost data from each military housing area (MHA) for the following categories: transportation, goods and services, federal income taxes, sales taxes, and miscellaneous expenses.  Data is adjusted to account for the amount of Basic Allowance for Subsistence, an allowance meant to offset the costs for a member's meals, and for cost savings gained from shopping at commissaries and exchanges. This information is compared to the same cost data for an average CONUS location (standard city), which serves as a benchmark. The resulting ratio is called an index. By law, a CONUS COLA rate is only prescribed when the index meets a threshold of 108 percent, meaning that the costs for non-housing types of goods and services in a particular location are at least 8 percent more expensive than the standard city.  An index in excess of 108 percent would qualify for CONUS COLA (e.g., a location that is 10 percent more expensive would qualify for a two percent COLA index).
In 2015, the total number of Service members receiving CONUS COLA will decrease from 23,000 to 19,000. 

This year, one MHA will receive a CONUS COLA index increase, thirteen will receive a decrease and four will no longer receive CONUS COLA in 2015. Additionally, seven MHAs will receive no changes.   For non-MHA areas (non-metropolitan counties), five counties will start to receive an index in 2015, twelve have no change, 6 receive a decrease and thirteen no longer qualify.

For more information on CONUS COLA or to review the 2015 Payout Tables, go to

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